Friday December 26th, 2014

New York Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is returning to Japan to play baseball, according to Daisuke Sugiura of Yahoo Japan. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also confirmed the report.

Kuroda, who will turn 40 in February, pitched the last three seasons for the Yankees. In 2014, he went 11-9 with a 3.71 ERA, 146 strikeouts and 35 walks in 199 innings.

Kuroda began his Major League career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008, playing there through 2011. In his seven seasons in the majors, Kuroda is 79-79 with a 3.45 ERA, 986 strikeouts and 292 walks in 1,319 innings.

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According to Japanese reports shared by Sugiura, Kuroda will return to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League. He spent 10 seasons from 1997-2007 with the Carp before jumping to the majors and signing with the Dodgers.

Losing Kuroda continues the makeover of the Yankees' pitching staff. Last week, the team acquired right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, first baseman Garrett Jones and 22-year-old pitching prospect Domingo German from the Miami Marlins in exchange for right-hander David Phelps and infielder Martin Prado.

Earlier this month, the Yankees also signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a one-year deal and let right-hander Brandon McCarthy walk in free agency. McCarthy later signed a four-year deal with the Dodgers.

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Returning Yankees starters include Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Chase Whitley and Ivan Nova​​, who will be out until May at the earliest due to Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees went 84-78 last season, missing the playoffs for the second straight year. The starting rotation allowed an average of 4.10 runs per game, eighth in the American League and slightly below the league average of 4.14.

Mike Fiammetta

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